The Presbyterian Church in Ireland has ministered to prisoners and staff in a number of locations and facilities across Ireland for many years. It currently has both full and part-time chaplains serving in Magilligan, Maghaberry, the Woodlands Juvenile Justice Centre in Bangor, and Hydebank Wood. Presbyterian ministers also visit in prisons in the Irish Republic.
The prison’s co-ordinating chaplain, Presbyterian minister Rev. Rodney Cameron said that on Mr. Buchan’s last visit to Ireland in June 2014, he had preached in Magilligan Prison and wanted to hold a similar event on his next visit, which is part of a wider tour of the UK and Ireland.
“Outside of conducting regular Sunday services and other specific tasks, as chaplains we minister to prisoners and their needs, while hard work, it is a privilege to promote a faith that is integral to life. As we seek to minister and do good for those under our care, we bring a message of hope to those who often don’t have much of that, the hope that we ourselves have found in Jesus,” Rev. Rodney Cameron said.
“In organising next week’s event, where the Christian faith can be discussed and everyone is welcome, all the chaplains across the denominations within Maghaberry have been involved. We have extended a warm and gentle invitation to the prisoners and so far upwards of 100 prisoners have applied to attend,” he continued.
At the meeting, a choir of prisoners who have been practising weekly since the start of the year will take part in the meeting.
“I am very grateful to my fellow chaplains, in particular my colleague Rev. Graham Stockdale, Presbyterian chaplain to Hydebank Wood in Belfast, who also works in Maghaberry. They have helped and promoted the event, along with the volunteers who have coached the choir. The results have been remarkable, not just in their singing, but in their outlook towards the future, and also their past,” Rev. Cameron said.
As a follow up to Tuesday’s event it is hoped that a number of Alpha courses, small groups designed to discover more about Christianity and a personal faith in Jesus, will take place in the autumn.